Sunday Afternoon Movie: The Monster Squad [1987]


The Monster Squad is like The Goonies ate a bunch of cheese and stocked up on fizzy pop, watched some old horror movies then had a seriously messed up dream.

Co-written by Shane Black years before Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a glint in Joss Whedon’s eye, The Monster Squad should have been a Goonies sized hit. While I admire it stuck to its guns with a 15 certificate, the decision undeniably assisted in its shortcomings at the box office. Thankfully, over the years The Monster Squad found a cult following, but I was one of the cool kids who loved it right from the beginning.

A group of young horror movie fans who call themselves The Monster Squad busy their free time watching old films. Naturally, this band of misfits conforms to expected archetypes so often found in ‘our gang’ type comedies. Their real life gets a dose of the supernatural when Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolf-Man, The Mummy and the Creature From The Black Lagoon emerge looking for a lost amulet. Now the fate of the world rests in the hand of a bunch of pre-teens, as Rupert Giles would say “the earth is doomed.’

Director Fred Dekker shows how a light touch can go a long way; it remains a shame that his most well-known movie other than Monster Squad is Robocop 3. Let that sink in for a moment. The 15 certificate is somewhat unmerited, the content of the movie is mostly kid friendly aside from a few saucy jokes. Dekker and Black’s script is sharp where it needs to be, goofy when it has to be and sentimental for an era of Hollywood that shaped them as filmmakers.

My misspent youth was spent in video stores (remember those?), before the internet ruined movies years before they came out, a poster or video sleeve was the first you would hear about a movie. I loved nothing more than scanning the shelves and studying every last detail of the artwork. As you can tell, I was quite the ladies repellant back then, at least I’m consistent. My movie watching decision making was less discerning in my formative years, a good front cover was often all it took to sway me, and The Monster Squad was one of those chance picks. I felt like was one of them and the movie was made for me, I grew up on horror classics and everything in between. I was an outsider seeking solace with like-minded friends, what I didn’t find in reality I found in abundance in the world of moving pictures.

Time may not have been kind to the special effects, but it is still a beautiful thing with more heart and gusto than the mass produced cash cows Hollywood breeds today.The Monster Squad is unapologetically 80s and the perfect movie to warm up to before Halloween.

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